6,000 miles from Malaysia to the UK may seem a long way to travel for a reunion, but not when the destination is as character-defining as your university.
Former students from the Class of 1997 made the trip last year to tour the University of Wolverhampton’s Telford and City Campuses, to reminisce and discover the wide-ranging improvements that have taken place across the institution’s grounds and facilities.
Vathana Bathmanathan, a senior lecturer in Malaysia who studied Business Administration at the University of Wolverhampton, said: “It was a really awesome experience. We had a nice warm welcome from the alumni office, and had a good visit to Telford Campus and the main campus too.”
The in-person reunion followed an online meetup in 2020 during the pandemic. Later, alumni ambassador Aida Jais contacted deputy head of alumni relations David Wedge to organise a physical event, which not only saw the group of graduates reuniting after 25 years, but also saw Vathana providing a guest lecture to current marketing students at the Wolverhampton Business School.
Vathana was surprised by how many changes had taken place at the campuses since she had last seen them.
She said: “I have so many fond memories and it was wonderful to be back. Aside from the halls of residence, I think that everything else was pretty much different! It was so nice and beautiful to see the university evolve.
"There’s the School of Nursing now, and they even have motorsports cars to work on for the engineers.
The cafeteria was like a signature area for all of us to go after class. We pretty much ran down and had the famous chips – you know, the England chips, which are so fat! They were just 29 pence, I think
Vathana and the rest of the crew took the same walk they used to take to campus for their lectures, filming the nostalgic journey as they went and calling the experience “emotional”.
During her visit, Vathana was reminded of the importance that the University had to her, not only in respect of her career, but also the impact it had on her as a person.
"The University didn’t just give us a degree – it built our characters, too. It actually moulded us to become the people that we are, both back then and who I am now. I think I can speak for the rest of the students as well.
“I think that alumni should go back to visit their Alma Mata and contribute to the University, if they can. You can contribute in so many ways: I did a sharing session with marketing students while I was there.
“University is a bridge between high school and working life, and it transforms you like a production house, from raw material into the end product. Returning to your university is such a beautiful experience, and I would ask alumni, please do contribute back. The younger generation will definitely appreciate that.”